At first, loss can feel like you are living in an absolute nightmare, except you cannot wake-up because it is real. The darkness can be so very heavy—even suffocating. It can literally be difficult just to breathe. The shock of it all can deaden the senses, and leave you feeling numb. Sometimes the silence of it all is deafening…
This period of loss can last indefinitely for some, and seems to pass more quickly for others. Usually, for most, it will come and go for the rest of their life as they have moments of remembrance or flashbacks or even euphoria—whatever you would like to label it.
Loss comes in many forms. It can be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a special pet, the loss of a job or occupation, loss of health, loss of a special relationship, loss of trust or a violation of such… the list goes on. Ultimately, loss is loss, and the effects of it are experienced in similar ways. Their is no way to measure or accurately state who has the greater loss, or who has felt it more, or been more hurt by it—we are all different, and we all process our losses differently.
One of the things that made a great difference for me in processing the death of my daughter, was something a friend shared with me. All she said was that she heard you had to be very proactive in dealing with grief. She may have said more, but this is mostly what I recall. It really stood out to me.
I have observed two grandmas and my mother-in-law for most of my adulthood deal with their own personal childloss. From what I could tell up to that point in my life—you never “get over it.” However, each of these special ladies handled their losses differently. While loss is always permanently life-altering for each individual, I believe there are definitely choices we can make in the aftermath that can assist us in either moving forward, keep us stuck in time, or even worse—cause us to retrogress.
For me, the pain of losing my precious daughter was so acute, it literally felt like I was dying. To this day, I believe that I easily could have—if I had allowed that to happen. If I had simply stopped breathing, it would have been the end. Each and every single breath was a conscious effort.
I do not recall how long this went on, but I do recall one day being aware that I had a choice. That was when I made a definitive decision that I would choose to live!!! I did not want to “check out,” because I had other children that I loved just as much, and they needed me to be well again—their lives depended on me.
Not everyone has such a clear motive for choosing to continue, but I believe we can all find purpose to help us move forward after loss. I knew also, in my heart, that my angel daughter was not to be found by looking back—she was by my side in the present as her spirit-self, and she would be in my future as her resurrected-self. This I knew.
When I chose to keep living, it made all the difference for me. Even though it was very difficult much of the time, I tried to just focus on the moment and doing what came next. It is very easy to get stuck.
After loss, things that were enjoyable before often lose their meaning. This was the case with me. But, I kept doing those things as best I could—I went through the motions, albeit very slowly at times! It was by no means easy, but it has made all the difference.
Perhaps the greatest thing that brought joy to me after loss, was appreciating my blessings more fully—especially the relationships with others that I hold dear. By giving thanks continually to Father for what I did have, and not focusing on what I “lost,” I was able to experience the simplicity and true beauty of God’s gifts in a way I could not fully do before.
The pain is still there, and some moments it still takes my breath away, but in choosing to keep living, and clinging to all which is full of light and life in this world, I always manage to find a little slice of joy in what is left. I know this is all temporary, and I know that what lies ahead is far more beautiful than what was left behind…
May we all choose to find joy in the small and simple things that the Lord has abundantly given. He is the true source of all our joys and blessings. By looking continually to the light, I find comfort and strength and courage to help me keep living. We do not get to choose our losses, but we can always choose how we will proceed in their aftermath, and I continue to choose to live.